Yesterday when the Washington Legislature adjourned it was another unsatisfactory conclusion for counties, who were already deeply disappointed by the outcomes from the first 160 days of legislative action.

The results didn’t get any better with an additional 30 days; the legislature failed to provide relief for counties who are now required to produce duplicative and costly water resource information before approving building permits that rely on wells that are exempt from state water permits.

Counties don’t have the expertise or financial resources to prepare this type of information, and since the Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling, they can’t rely on information prepared by the state’s water resource agency, the Department of Ecology.

To add further injury, the legislature also failed to pass a capital budget which funds grant programs utilized by counties to meet state mandates, and county infrastructure projects to better local communities.

WSAC has been seeking help in addressing the Hirst decision all session long, and state capital resources are crucial to county operations. The legislature’s failure on both of these issues will have direct and negative impacts to Washington residents.

Some legislators have expressed a desire to continue looking for bi-partisan agreement on the Hirst decision which would unlock the path forward on the capital budget. While such an outcome seems unlikely at this point, we will keep you posted if anything develops.

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Josh Weiss started working in Olympia in 1998 and in addition to spending the last 8 years at WSAC, has served as nonpartisan counsel to the House of Representatives, Legislative Director for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Environmental Policy Director for the Washington Forest Protection Association representing private forest landowners. Josh is a graduate of Central Washington University and the Vermont Law School, and is a fourth generation Washingtonian.